I Finally Get Nation... We Are The Grandmothers!!

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OMG I cannot believe that I get it now.

If you look at the dedication in the front of the book, Terry says it "For Lyn". The real heart of the story is in Chapters 8 and 9. It is where the threads of the story finally come together and make sense.

Once it hit me, (between the eyes like a Fry Pan) it was a HUGE epiphany. It Is An Anti-War Story! Or at least an Anti-Kill/Hate each other story!

Starting in Chapter 8 ROLLING THE STONE

"She looked up into the gloomy roof of the hut. "I heard you because I was listening," she said. "Then listen to us, girl who can hear us who have no voices." "And you are--?" "We are the Grandmothers" "I've never heard of the Grandmothers!" "Where do you think little grandfathers come from? Every man has a mother, and so does every mother. We gave birth to little grandfathers, and filled them with milk, and wiped their bottoms and kissed their tears away. We taught them to eat, and showed them what food was safe, so that they grew up straight. We taught them the songs of children, which have lessons in them. And then we gave them to the Grandfathers, who taught them how to kill other women's sons. The ones who were best at this were dried in the sand and taken to the cave. We went back to the dark water, but part of us remains here in this place where we were born and gave birth and, often, died." "The Grandfathers shout at Mau all the time!" "They are echoes in a cave. They remember the battle cries of their youth, over and over again, like the talking bird. They are not bad men. We loved them, as sons and husbands and father, but old men get confused and dead men don't notice the turning of the world. The world must turn. Tell Mau he must roll away the stone." And they left. She felt them slide out of her mind. That, thought Daphne, was impossible. Then she thought: Up to now, anyway. They were real, and they're still here. They're what I felt when Twinkle was being born, as if the Place was alive and on my side. Perhaps some voices are so old everyone understands them." (pages 212 & 213 of the first hardcover edition)

We (women, and probably men when you get right down to it) Do Not Like To Have Our Sons and Daughters taught how to Hate and How to Kill other women's children!!

Mrs. Gurgle learns that Daphne is really another "Sky Woman" or "Woman of Power" during her "visit" to Daphne's past to the point where her mother and baby brother had died. She was there on the ancient carpet on the stairs with Dapne in her memory. Mrs. Gurgle took the tiny coffin down and opened the big coffin, then she looked at Daphne expectantly. " She knew what to do. She'd done it in her imagination a thousand times. She lifted the small, cold body from his lonely coffin, kissed his little face, and tucked him in beside their mother. The crying stopped-- --she blinked at Mrs. Gurgle's bright eyes, there in front of her again. The sound of the sea filled her ears." (page 198)

I was crying when this realization came to me. I have always had my husband's paintball business allow all military (retired, current and even new recruits) free entry for the day. It does not matter how many times they come out, or how many of them come at a time. They have, and in some cases will, be doing a service to us, and hopefully the world. I do not agree with the political reasons for wars. I do not understand why we have to send our young to die for some strip of land or why people have to be evil and kill innocents and children. But, I honor those who do serve.

As a mother, I can completely understand the reasons behind this book. I see that Mau is tortured by the shouting of the Grandfathers, and how he does not understand why they keep shouting.

Atabe the priest does NOT want Mau to learn that he doesn't necessarily believe in the gods, but that he Does believe in belief. This comes to light during their sojourn into the depths of the cave. Later, Daphne tries to comfort Mau by explaining that his people had had the technology way back in the past and had actually sailed around the world long before her people had. That they had telescopes, and saw Jupiter, the Air god and Saturn, the Fire god with his hands tied to his side by the rings.

The part about Mrs. Gurgle's new shiny Dentures is really a Hoot! As Daphne said earlier, she was "frankly, Grabby" and "It was certainly the only (meeting of the people) to have Mrs. Gurgle scuttling around in it with her new teeth. She had snatched them out of Daphne's hand when she was demonstrating them to Cahle, and it was impossible to get anything off Mrs. Gurgle if she didn't want you to take it."

"Ahem" ... it is a Big Word. Daphne understood the maids back home a lot more when the sun gleamed on Mau's shoulders. Ahem.

I adored the fact that at the end her Grandmother wound up chewing salt pickled beef for Mrs. Gurgle, indeed proving that the old woman was a Great woman of power.

This is what I gleaned from the book, other than the parts about Mau's people were indeed far more cultured years before the British had believed. They had telescopes, eyeglasses, tools, and had sailed so far that they wound up back home.

In the last chapter, Terry says about:

This book contains some. Whether you try it at home is up to you.


Super Moderator
City Watch
Jul 25, 2008
Cardiff, Wales
Some interesting stuff there, Tina! :laugh: I have to admit that I've only read Nation once so far and haven't quite got to grips with the subtexts yet. So I'll bear your post in mind when I next read it. :laugh:
Dec 31, 2008
Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit said:
It Is An Anti-War Story! Or at least an Anti-Kill/Hate each other story!

In the last chapter, Terry says about:

This book contains some. Whether you try it at home is up to you.
I agree with what you say, but you are still missing, what I believe, is the main message of the book.

Having just finished "Darwin's Watch", I reckon Nation is a continuation of Darwin's Watch, but in fictional form. It is about someone who struggles with his belief in God and in the end, finally rejects the concept of a supreme being, choosing instead to place his faith in science and humanity (like I believe TP does).

"God (Imo) made as clever enough to work out he doesn't exist"

In Darwin's Watch, in the alternative trouser of time, Origin of Species is written 100 years later by Richard Dawkins. The same guy who wrote the excellent "God Delusion" - an argument against religion which was very controversial. What a coincidence, Richard Dawkins also pops up in the last chapter of Nation and is called that "nice professor Dawkins".

Darwin's Watch has a go at creationism which claims the world is only 6,000 years old, saying it's all nonsense. Nation has a lost civilisation from 30,000 years ago. QED Creationism is wrong.

The whole of Nation is littered with anti-God/religion statements.

That's my take on Nation.
Dec 31, 2008
.....when I started reading Nation the first time, I couldn't understand why it wasn't set on Discworld. It could have been a small island somewhere and an AM ship. If it was purely an anti-war/anti-kill/anti-hate story there would have been absolutely no reason why not.

But on Discworld Gods exist. There's hundreds of 'em. It had to be set somewhere where there was only ONE God ie; a trousers of time leg of roundworld.
Jul 25, 2008
Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A.
Excellent post, Tina. Will have to keep it in mind the next time I read Nation.

I think that you are right on many aspects (and the anti-war & anti-God theme that Pooh mentions). But I think neither of you are taking into account (mind--it's been a while since I read it) the importance of Mau's part in re-creating and shaping the new nation, one in which there is a good deal more concern about strange, damaged people who have also survived the catastrophe.

Does anyone think this book may also be in someways a foreshadowing by TP of what might happen because of climate change, and the changes which will need to take place?
Yes, Swreader, I do. There is scientific fact that the poles of the earth have shifted every ten to 15 thousand years and the "women's stories" are about the Time When the World Turned Upside Down" and "The Time When Things Were Different", I think that Mau's NATION, was like Daphne thought in the cave about Ancient Crete, or the Phoenecians, who traveled all around the world and gathered all the knowledge of the world... imagine what was lost in the Great Library of Alexandria.

It leads to more thinking. And I, for one, Wholeheartedly reccommend it at home. :hugs:

Edit: About Thinking... We can also share much of it here :laugh:

Jan Van Quirm

Nov 7, 2008
Dunheved, Kernow
'Ere - you can't go around here accusing people of THINKING! :laugh: Next thing you know we'll be reading too... whoops! Too late :twisted:

Seriously - I can resist peer pressure no longer. I shall order Nation as a birfday pressie to myself forthwith...

Dunno about the Tiff books yet tho' :p
Dec 31, 2008
"But I'd asked the question because my mother had told me about two families she knew in the East End of London. They lived in a pair of semi-detached houses. The daughter of one was due to get married to the son of the other and on the night before the wedding a German bomb destroyed the members of both families who were staying in those houses in one go, except for the sailor brother of the groom, who arrived in time to help scrabble through the wreckage with his bare hands.

Like many of the stories she told me, this had an enormous effect on me. I thought it was a miracle. It was exactly the same shape as a miracle. It was just ... reversed.

Did the sailor thank his god that the bomb had missed him? Or did he curse because it had not missed his family? If the sailor had given thanks, wouldn't he be betraying his family?

If God saved one, He could have saved the rest, couldn't He? After all, isn't God in charge? Why does He act as if He isn't? Does He want us to act as if He isn't, too?

About five years ago that child rose up in me again and I began work on a book, soon to see the light of day as Nation. It came to me overnight, in all but the fine detail.

It is set on a world very like this one, at the time of an explosion very like that of Krakatoa, and in the centre of my book, a 13-year-old boy, now orphaned, screams at his gods for answers when he hasn't fully understood what the questions are.

He hates them too much not to believe. He has had to bury his own family; he is not going to give thanks to anyone. And I watched him try to build a new nation and a new philosophy.

'The creator gave us the brains to prove he doesn't exist,' he says as an old man. 'It is better to build a seismograph than to worship the volcano.'

I agree. I don't believe. I never have, not in big beards in the sky."

Terry Pratchett
Daphne asked the archbishop that same question, before her blasted grandmother drug her off by her ear. Was it an opposite shaped miracle that the doctor's horse was struck by lightning?

I lived through an F-4 tornado that went through Belvidere IL on April 21st, 1967. We had a lot of survivor guilt in my town. It did make some people crazy. And some like me, a 6 year old girl, began to question things, such as "If God is there, why did the tornado go through all of the school buses right at 3:15 when all the little kids were sitting in them in front of the high school?" and "Why did the tornado go right through my house and kill people I knew?"

But, we were not allowed to Think those things when I was a child. Some people went the other way and said we were living in an evil way, and that was why we were struck by the tornado. Survivor guilt is hard.

I agree, there is no big bearded guy in the sky. There is us, and what we choose to do to ourselves and each other. :hug: Take time to Think and be grateful for what we have right now. Thank you for the wake up call Mr. Pratchett.
Dec 31, 2008
Tina a.k.a.SusanSto.Helit said:
I agree, there is no big bearded guy in the sky. There is us, and what we choose to do to ourselves and each other. :hug: Take time to Think and be grateful for what we have right now. Thank you for the wake up call Mr. Pratchett.
100% agree!

The rat

Apr 18, 2009
Bad Blintz
What? WHAT! Are you telling me that this book isn't about beliving that the Tree Climbing Octopus is real! That is what I got out of the book!

You could imagine my disappointment when i did a Gurgle... I mean GOOGLE search and found out that they were not real! :cry:


I kind of saw where Terry was going when the Granmothers started to speak. I know the mess the world is in because of Grandfathers! This part of the book had a whole Monsterous Regimine feel to it. A very condensed, but accurate feel to it. Hopefully for the young readers new to Terry would soon pick up MR and see the 'adult' thoughts on this type of thinking.

That is whY I love to read Terry, he works on so many levels and ages!
Dec 15, 2008
Gaaah!! Way too much thinking for me at this moment...I'm getting a major headache....and I haven't even read the book yet o_O ;)
Will read it though - eventually.
Dec 31, 2008
Before you read Nation, I recommend you read Darwin's Watch (if you haven't already read it). 8)
Dec 15, 2008
Before you read Nation, I recommend you read Darwin's Watch (if you haven't already read it).
I have read it. Took too few books with me on holiday a few years ago and bought it at a local greek bookstore. I did finish it, but it wasn't really meant to be read at the beach with plenty of beer between chapters :laugh:


Nov 19, 2009
Exp. Date said:
I know the mess the world is in because of Grandfathers!
That's quite a true statement!

Concerning TP's "anti-God/religion statements".. Being an atheist myself, I do not see too much "anti God" in any of TP's books. Especially not those playing on Discworld, where lots of them guys and gals are running around happily..

Yes, he does show a certain disdain for organised religion. And I can not blame him for that, as too many examples in history have shown where organised religion can lead to..

TP isn't "anti God" - not even in "Nation" - he just seems to support the thesis, that not God(s) made Mankind, but vice versa. It's no problem, when You talk to god(s) about Your troubles, the problem starts when You think he/they answer/s.. or care..

And, to reflect some more, in Nation and the DW novels there are "supreme beings", building worlds, destroying universes (.. well, nearly, if the auditors had been successful..) and with that showing tendencies of godlike behaviour. Not very "anti God" in my not so humble opinion.

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